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Weaving hidden First Nations stories into the built environment

An exciting new collaboration involving Autex Acoustics, Willie Weston and Lisa Waup colourfully brings First Nations design to high-performance acoustics.

Weaving hidden First Nations stories into the built environment

'Oneness' - Autex Acoustics x Willie Weston's Lisa Waup Collection.

With sustainability, carbon-neutrality and support of First Nations peoples and culture central to Autex Acoustics’ mission, the latest collaboration draws on Indigenous art to introduce a new commercial product.

Willie Weston is a profit-for-purpose business that works in partnership with First Nations artists. For their most recent collection they have teamed up with an especially thoughtful and exciting artist, Lisa Waup. Lisa is a mixed-cultural artist and curator with Gunditjmara, Torres Strait Islander and Italian heritage, based in Naarm. She has a varied and extensive exhibition history, working across a range of mediums. Autex Acoustics and Willie Weston have worked together to translate Lisa’s designs onto a range of high performing commercial acoustic wall lining products. The products are carbon neutral and available on Autex Acoustics’ Cube™ and Quietspace® Panel.

The fundamental goal and distinctive result of this kind of ongoing collaboration between Autex Acoustics and Willie Weston is the integration of First Nations art and design into the built environment. It’s the collaborative nature of the project that really makes it stand out, as Waup explains.

Lisa Waup – Photographer Peter Tarasuik.

“I think collaborations are really underrated,” says Waup. “They’re really special, as long as they’re done respectfully, with transparency and communication. To be able to take different skills and connect them together – you can just create magic.”

At the core of the task is translating art and design from one medium and cultural sphere into another; from printmaking and paper-based art, for example, to commercial upholstery fabrics. This is where Willie Weston’s expertise shines, with their ability to understand industry demands and link Autex Acoustics with artists such as Lisa Waup. Crucially, the emphasis is on doing so in an ethical and respectful way.

‘Oneness’ – Autex Acoustics x Willie Weston’s Lisa Waup Collection.

“It’s a collaborative process between the artist and Willie Weston,” explains Laetitia Prunetti (Co-Founder at Willie Weston.) “Initially, we work with the artist (or their representative art centre) to select works that will translate into repeating patterns. We then digitise those artworks and create repeats, interfering as minimally as possible with the original artwork. Sometimes scale is adapted. We then develop a range of colourways, with the contemporary interiors sector in mind. These are shared with the artist, and they must approve all colourways before they are released into the market.”

‘Oneness’ colourways – Autex Acoustics x Willie Weston’s Lisa Waup Collection. 
From Left to Right: Oneness ‘Lichen’, Oneness ‘Heath’, Oneness ‘Tussock’, Oneness ‘Plum’.

Waup continues: “I see [the translation] as really aligned with what I’ve done – I think it really honours the work that I’ve created. Of course, it’s altered slightly for a commercial setting but I feel like it’s been translated really well and working with Willie Weston has been wonderful.”

Lisa Waup x Willie Weston – Photographer Martina Gemmola.

A multidisciplinary practice and the crossing of boundaries within art are clearly some of the defining features of Waup’s work. She describes printmaking as being “very close to my heart,” while explaining that materiality – including reused, found objects – is a strong focus. Family, history, postcolonialism and Country are similarly important sources of inspiration in an artistic practice that seems to be both deeply personal and highly social.

‘Renewed’ – Autex Acoustics x Willie Weston’s Lisa Waup Collection.

“I’m forever trying to find out more about my history, and that history also has Stolen Generations within it,” says Waup. “It’s something that I’m forever trying to unearth and, as a visual artist, I use different media to express this and tell stories that have not been told, stories that have been hidden.”

‘Renewed’ colourways – Autex Acoustics x Willie Weston’s Lisa Waup Collection. 
From Left to Right: Renewed ‘Pearl’, Renewed ‘Pebble’, Renewed ‘Wild Violet’, Renewed ‘Grevillea’.

Kirk Schmidt, General Manager of Autex Acoustics, also comments on the business’s focus on sustainability: “Our mission as a responsible and sustainable business is to positively impact our environment, our people, and the next generation. To ensure we are acting on this mission, we have developed a sustainability strategy that aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

‘Renewed’ – Autex Acoustics x Willie Weston’s Lisa Waup Collection.

Commenting on the collaborative process, Jess Booth, Co-Founder of Willie Weston adds: “We’re already seeing great interest from architects and designers keen to engage with First Nations design, particularly through a Naarm-based artist of Lisa’s esteem. We’re excited to see the partnership between Willie Weston, Lisa Waup and Autex Acoustics progress.”

Combining First Nations thinking and design with high-performance, sustainable acoustic solutions, the new range includes works by Waup entitled ‘Oneness’ and ‘Renewed.’ Rich colours, layers of history, and a sense of weaving together disparate parts are at the heart of this multilayered and thoughtful collaboration.  

Autex Acoustics

Willie Weston

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